a love/hate relationship

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Toronto

In Toronto I picked up two books of poetry from local Toronto poets. The one on the left is The Dagger Between Her Teeth by Jennifer LoveGrove. The cover art was amazing, so I had to have this one. The one below is Know Your Monkey by Elyse Friedman.

I’m looking forward to writing a talk back poem using one of these poets soon. I bought these books from a spectacular used book store in/around the Little Greek neighborhood called Circus Books & Music. (Really, stop by if you’re in Toronto.) I could have bought a lot more than these two books, but I had to limit myself.

Toronto’s art and music scene was inspiring (especially the shops along Queen Street!), and I hope to go back someday.

My jazz club recommendations for Toronto include The Rex (where we saw the University of Toronto Jazz Ensemble) and The Reservoir. Both places had fantastic music with a cool atmosphere, but they were very different places. Check ’em out!

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needing words

I am looking for new/old poetry that is at least new to me! I would love some suggestions. If you have a favorite poet, and more specifically a favorite collection of poems by that favorite poet, please do share it with me. I’ve ordered several new books, but they are in transit. And, I’m always looking for an excuse to buy more books. Really, who isn’t?

I stumbled across this poem by Carol Ann Duffy, and it really caught my eye. I thought I would share it with you, whoever you are, you curious internet stalkers! Here you go:

Stuffed

I put two yellow peepers in an owl.
Wow. I fix the grin of Crocodile.
Spiv. I sew the slither of an eel.
I jerk, kick-start, the back hooves of a mule.
Wild. I hold the red rag to a bull.
Mad. I spread the feathers of a gull.

I screw a tight snarl to a weasel.
Fierce. I stitch the flippers on a seal.
Splayed. I pierce the heartbeat of a quail.

waving the white flag

As a freelancer, I find money to be tight most of the time. I quit my job as a legal assistant in the summer of 2009 to fully pursue freelance writing. I’ve gained a few gigs since then, but it seems that my finances are dwindling down to the wire.

So I’ve faced the music and decided it’s time to get a job. Even if I have to be an assistant again. Even if I’m an assistant in a place that offers me no upward mobility. Even if I’m making a measly hourly wage. It must be done.

And now I’m raising the white flag, waving it around in hopes to find a crappy, meaningless, bill-paying job. I would actually be happy waking up at 7 a.m., making lunch, getting to work, having tasks to complete, having people to talk to, and earning a paycheck. One where the employer takes out taxes and I might be eligible for a tax refund next year.

Oh, because this year I think I owe the government. Freelancing, such a hard, scary, sexy bitch of a job.

Monkey, you are not alone!

somewhere here there’s a poem

My good friend the psychiatrist informed me of a way I could make some extra cash. She gave my information to one of her colleagues that teaches at a medical school in the area. I will not disclose here which school.

Before I know it, I’m asked to be a Standardized Patient for a full body exam. I would be the guinea pig that taught med students how to test reflexes, how to properly palpate the liver, how to feel for glands and other exciting things of that  sort. The director told me to wear a bathing suit top and shorts, so the doctor could check for horrible diseases without having to disrupt too much clothing.

To my complete and utter horror, when I walked into the exam room, there was only a bed, a doctor, and a cameraman. Whaaaaaat????

And in my head I’m trying to figure out what on EARTH my friend signed me up for. Don’t porn videos have similar beginnings? Where are all the students? I was ready to be funny and witty in front of a group; I was not ready to have my body parts zoomed-in on and then broadcast to a lecture hall of students.

But I quickly forgot my anxieties when I reminded myself how much money I was racking up per hour. I could do this. I can do anything.

The exam was strange, and I was constantly trying not to look directly into the camera, pick my nose, burp, or embarrass myself to the mysterious people watching me. After a while I completely melted away. As the doctor’s hands were percussing, palpating, I was on a boat feeling wind in my hair. I was lying on my own bed, staring at the ceiling, counting sheep. I was calling upon my deepest meditation powers. I barely heard the doctor address the class, and then me.

“Female patients have breasts. But they also have lungs underneath them. Just ask your patient to move their breasts out of the way.”

And then to me: “Could you please push your breasts to the sides?” Done. “Could you push only your left breast to the left?” Done. Listening, breathing, listening. “Now lift your left breast up.” Done. It’s normal, fondling  yourself on camera. After three rounds of “lift up your left breast”, I was the perfect puppet. I knew exactly when he wanted to listen to the underbelly of my boob.

After four hours of poking, prodding, palpating and percussing, we were finished. I had made it through a slightly mortifying yet financially lucrative situation. When they asked if I would come back again two days later for another demonstration, I accepted.

Somewhere in here, there’s a poem. I haven’t found it yet. But the things we English majors do for money never ceases to surprise me.

Does anyone want to pay me to write a poem? Or move my breast to the left? I’m pretty good at both.

How am I not myself?

“How am I not myself?”

– I Heart Huckabees

Sometimes I don’t feel like myself and I look down
and I don’t look like myself. If only I could get away
from myself for just a minute or two. Let me
shelf that thought to bring up this one:

What if we could crawl out of ourselves and into
each other, then we would still be selves just not
our selves, and then we could look at our selves
from another self. This wouldn’t be the same as

looking in a mirror. It would be a peek at yourself
from outside yourself. You could see how your edges
curve away and into space, and you could see
how alone and how together we all are, always.

drooling for a nook

I have a conundrum. I am a book lover and an earth lover. So much paper, so much waste!

Lately I’ve been doing research on eBook readers, and I’ve decided that the Barnes and Noble nook is the one that looks most pleasing to me. Now they’re back-ordered until January-something, so it looks as though the holiday season is working wonders for their sales.

The features that excite me include the touchscreen, the ability to share eBooks, the ability to make notes and highlight passages, previews before buying eBooks, free titles on Barnes and Noble’s website, and of course, cute accessories (yeah I know, but it’s all reminiscent of school supplies, which I absolutely adore).

Will the nook quench my thirst for reading and helping the environment? Who knows! You’ll just have to wait and see.

If you’re interested in donating to my nook fund, please message me. I will repay your kindness with warm thoughts.

on correcting grammar

When someone says “Amy and me were at the mall the other day”, we all wince. When someone forwards you an email with the subject line “send this to ten people or your doomed”, we turn our noses up and hit delete. When your boss sends out a memo reading “employees are wasting to much lunch time”, we physically recoil/roll our eyes/bang our fists.

Why do you work for someone who doesn’t know the difference between too and to? Or –gasp!– why are you working for someone who wouldn’t care about the difference even if you told him?

The trouble with grammar is, no one cares.

Say my mother were correcting you on how to bake cookies. I bet you would listen to her, because you want cookies. But grammar-correction comes with nothing but embarrassment. I’ve embarrassed you because you were wrong. You’ve embarrassed me because everyone thinks I’m a nerd. No one cares about the difference between who and whom.

My boyfriend’s expertise involves math, computers, sound, engineering. He is a very smart audio/electrical engineer, and he frequently attempts to explain his projects to me, and sometimes I even understand them! I, being the nerd that I am, listen with zeal, excited about another academic challenge. Can I follow? Can I understand a tiny fraction of accoustics, with absolutely no training? I am a genius! I knew I could’ve been anything! I just chose to be an English major because it was my passion!…

Wait, why didn’t I choose something else…?

And there. I’ve really gotten away from the point, but I’ve found it again. The point is, you listen to the plumber so you can unclog your drain. You listen to my mom because you love cookies. You listen to my boyfriend because he can tell you how to hook up your electronics. Why do you listen to me?

So I can berate you on your ignorance of homonyms?

There’s really no reason to listen to me. Just read something funny, stimulating, or intelligent. Words on a page don’t talk back; I do.